10 Dec Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat Mikeitz 5776
This Shabbat we have the unusual circumstance of reading from three Torah scrolls – unusual because the only guaranteed occurrence of this taking place during the Jewish year takes place is on Simchat Torah when from the first Torah we read the completion of D’varim, from the second scroll the opening verses of B’reishit and from the third the maftir portion. The confluence of events taking place this Shabbat, Shabbat/Chanukah/Rosh Chodesh, is one of several other potential three-Torah situations that could occur. When such a moment arrives, we turn to a principal taught to us by Beit Hillel regarding which order to read these three Torahs. The principle at play is one that Beit Hillel uses to explain why when making Kiddush on Friday night we first say Borei P’ri Hagafen (the blessing for the wine) before the special bracha sanctifying Shabbat – that principle being tadir v’she’eino tadir, tadir kodem, that in a situation of something done on a regular basis as well as something done on an irregular basis, we do the one done regularly first. On Friday night, we say Borei P’ri Hagafen first because that is the more regularly occurring bracha since it is recited whenever one drinks wine whereas the bracha sanctifying Shabbat is recited only on Shabbat. This Shabbat, when we read from three Torahs, we first read from the scroll rolled to the weekly portion since we read parashat hashavuah, the weekly portion, every week. Next comes the scroll rolled to Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the month, since that happens all throughout the year though less frequently than Shabbat. And then finally we read from the scroll rolled to the reading for Chanukah, the least common of all three readings. (Please remember, though, the exception to this rule is that this Friday night, we light our Chanukah candles first before our Shabbat candles despite the fact that Shabbat candles are lit much more regularly. The reason being that once you light Shabbat candles Shabbat has started and we are prohibited from striking a flame and wouldn’t be able to light Chanukah candles.) But either way, it is quite uncommon to see three Torahs taken out of the ark and everyone is welcome to join us this Shabbat as this take place once again.
Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh Tov and Chag Urim Sameach!
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik